Tuesday, February 26, 2008; 4:30 – 5:30 p.m., Mason Hall, room D5


Present:  James Bennett, Lorraine Brown, Phil Buchanan, Janette Muir, Larry Rockwood, Suzanne Slayden, Susan Trencher.

 I.  Approval of Minutes of February 1, 2008:  The minutes were approved as distributed.

II.  Announcements

Today’s meeting was rescheduled from Friday, February 22 due to inclement weather.  Provost Stearns was unable to attend today due to a previous commitment.


III.  Reports of Senate Standing Committee Chairs for inclusion in March 5th agenda


A.  Academic Policies – Janette Muir – see Unfinished Business.


B.  Budget and Resources – Phil Buchanan – no report.


C.  Faculty Matters – Larry Rockwood

Motions on Tenure Clock Extension Serious Illness

Last year, the Faculty Senate approved a motion for Tenure Clock Extension for New Parents (May 2, 2007).  At our January meeting we approved an extension of probationary period after being called up for Military Service.  We now propose an extension of the probationary period (stoppage of tenure clock) for serious personal or family illness.


Extension of Probationary Period for Serious Illness


Extension of the probationary period for tenure track faculty member will be approved for circumstances that have a significant impact on the faculty member’s productivity, such as serious personal illness or a major illness of a member of the faculty member’s immediate family, under the following conditions and definitions.  Serious personal illness or illness within the immediate family will be defined according to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), already used by the university.  The FMLA act requires certification of the illness by a physician and is handled by Human Resources.  Once certification of the illness has been approved by Human Resources, the faculty member can delay the tenure clock (extension of the probationary period) by notifying, in writing, the chair of the department or the dean/director of the college, school or institute in which the faculty member serves.  The request must be made within three months of certification of sick or family leave by Human Resources.  Probationary period extensions will be granted in one-year increments, with the maximum probationary period extension being a cumulative total of two years.  An extension beyond one year will require discussion with the appropriate department chair and Dean.  At the time of tenure consideration, a faculty member will be considered using the same criteria as those applied to other faculty in the college school or institute. 


D.  Nominations – Jim Bennett

Irene Bruno (IT&E) is nominated to fill a vacancy on the Writing Across the Curriculum Committee.


Robert Dudley (CHSS), Helen Frederick (CVPA), Richard Rubenstein (ICAR), and Robert Smith (CHSS) were elected to serve as faculty representatives to the Provost Review Committee.


E.  Organization and Operations – Lorraine Brown – no report.


IV.  Business for next Faculty Senate meeting agenda


Rector Volgenau to address the Senate.  


Unfinished Business:  Motion to approve the concept proposal for a Faculty Practice Plan for GMU discussed at Faculty Senate Meeting February 13, 2008.  Should Dean Shirley Travis not attend the March 5th meeting, Senator Jose Cortina served as faculty representative to the committee that developed this plan.  Under rubric of plan, each unit can approve its own faculty practice plan.  To add reminder link in agenda to reference discussion at last Faculty Senate meeting.


Unfinished Business:  Motions on Incomplete Grade Policies and Requirement of Incomplete Grade Contract for Earlier Deadline as discussed at February 13, 2008 Faculty Senate Meeting.  To add reminder link in agenda to reference discussion at last Faculty Senate meeting.


New Business:  Six motions from the Task Force on Compensation Issues received.


V.  New Business/Discussion


Math Dept. Inquiry about Bookstore Pricing. As representative to the Bookstore Advisory Committee, Lorraine noted that the committee is active only when renewing contracts.  Only one bid was made for the present contract.  An ad hoc student committee, Virginia 21, has advocated relief for high costs of textbooks.  Universities receive a lot of money in percentage of sales of books.  The logistics of the inquiry need to be further worked out; is there someone in the Math department willing to spearhead this?


Amendment to Senate By-Laws For Establishment of a Quorum: 

Absence of a quorum at the last two Senate meetings was unusual.  According to Roberts Rules of Order, any action approved by the Senate without a quorum would be null and void.  Fifty Senators are elected by their units; thirteen administrators serve in ex-officio status, all have the right to vote.  Many administrators do not attend Senate meetings.  Some Senators may be teaching at that time; encourage all Senators to attend.  Suggestion made to redefine a quorum as 50% of elected membership (25), not present 50% of membership (32).  Possibility that some deans may not realize they have the right to vote serving as Senators in ex-officio status.  Organizations and Operations will propose changes. 


The search for a Parliamentarian continues. 


Likely Origin of Changes in Motion Text as discussed at last meeting February 1, 2008:  The changes in the text of the Tenure Clock Extensions For New Parents approved by the BOV at its May 9, 2007 meeting compared with the text of the Tenure Clock Extension for New Parents as amended and approved by the Faculty Senate at its May 2, 2007 meeting may be the result of a clerical error by the Provost’s Office.  The text approved by the BOV is identical to a draft text of suggested revisions from the Provost sent to the Senate clerk as discussed at the Executive Committee meeting April 23, 2007.  It matches the text approved by the BOV at its May 9, 2007 meeting and therefore did not include the motion as amended and approved at the Faculty Senate meeting May 2, 2007.  


After some discussion, there was general consensus that the Provost should request that the BOV (reconsider) motion as amended and approved by the Faculty Senate.  The motion approved by the BOV in May 2007 went into effect July 1, 2007, and is applicable to all faculty employed on or after that date, not only to those faculty hired on or after that date. New parents may not initially recognize need to extend the tenure clock under the shorter three-month application deadline; longer one-year deadline to apply more helpful to some, although acknowledged this may happen rarely.  Need also to check text of Board Book (agenda) to verify accuracy of motion texts approved by the Senate before sent to the BOV, as well as any explanation of changes made by administration to be communicated both to the Faculty Senate and to the BOV.  Text changes may have been made by legal counsel; also implementation deadlines established as noted above. Also impacts approved policies to be included in the Faculty Handbook. 


Larry Rockwood reported that a Senator member of the Faculty Matters committee saw a need for policy documents on the use of public space and freedom of speech:  present policies on Space Use /Leafleting  /Vending Sales do not address these issues.  Suggestions were made to consult with Senator Jim Kozlowski, who teaches a course on this issue and to find suitable examples of such policies at other universities.


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate